When states engage in negotiations in the Council of the European Union, the position of actors relative to their negotiating partners has a substantial impact on outcomes. Those with extreme positions will experience difficulty in winning support, while those in the centre will find states more amenable to their perspective regardless of their actual negotiating power. The bulk of the literature on bargaining in the Council has tended to assume that this form of ‘luck’ will balance itself out across negotiations, but is this actually the case? Using the DEUII dataset I show that certain states consistently adopt ‘luckier’ positions than others and that this effect appears to benefit smaller states. The clear implication of this finding is that we require a better understanding of the preference formation stage if we are to capture fully the dynamics of EU decision-making.
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